Balance Matters

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This article appeared in the Spring 2008 issue of Texoma Living!.

5 Tips to Lighten Up in a Terminally Serious World

by Brent O’Bannon

Who says you can’t be serious minded, savvy and lighthearted at the same time?

We all need to lighten up in a terminally serious world. If you are stuck on the treadmill of seriousness, here are five lighthearted tips to help you get unstuck.


Psychologist James Laird of Clark University discovered that frowns trigger painful memories and smiles trigger happy memories. Smiling creates a lighthearted mood, connects you to people, and creates confidence. Go ahead. Exercise those zygomaticus muscles; you’re on candid camera.

Self Effacing Humor

How do angels fly? They take themselves lightly. Taking yourself too seriously is a deadly disease. To take pressure off yourself and score brownie points with others; it is better to laugh at yourself than to poke fun at someone else.


What are your favorite real-life funny stories? Who makes you laugh? Which movies or sitcoms help you bust a gut? Milton Berle said it well, “Laughter is an instant vacation.” Take time to tickle your funny bone.


In counseling hundreds of people, I have discovered that many who struggle with depression, anxiety, loneliness, grief and a host of other mental health issues do not make time for leisure and play. To lighten up and find happiness in life, get involved in a hobby, play games, get active in sports and make a difference by volunteering.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, approximately 574 million vacation days go unused by American workers each year. People dream of a vacation, talk about a vacation but sadly do not take a vacation. People need to see the value of a vacation. More than one-third of the U.S. survey respondents reported feeling more productive and better about their jobs upon returning from vacation.

Brent O’Bannon is an author, therapist, and speaker who helps people find a happy, healthy, balance. His new book, “Balance Matters: Turning Burnout into Balance” is available online at

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